Wokingham’s artistic and creative future looks set to thrive as the council’s decision making executive is asked to approve the new Arts and Culture strategy when they meet on Thursday (March 25)
The strategy, which has been developed in partnership with local organisations and residents, sets out local ambitions for arts and culture as well as establishing key priorities and an action plan to help Wokingham Borough become a dynamic cultural hub by 2030.
“Feedback from last October’s engagement helped cement just how important local residents, creative organisations and businesses view arts and culture in the borough.” Said Cllr Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for regeneration. “People recognise the real difference access to arts and culture can make to their lives, not just in the way it helps enrich lives, brings people together, and helps support their mental health, but also in how it can open up new opportunities for all.
The Arts and Culture strategy focusses on six key priorities that aim to bring together a range of local and national bodies, as well as towns and parishes, to create a cultural identity for the borough, help bring communities and individuals together as well as looking at how we can use arts to improve local health and well-being. The strategy also look to how the arts can be used to support local economic growth, create new jobs and develop a range of opportunities for children and young people.
Sitting alongside the strategy is a new annual Arts and Culture Action Plan which identifies a range of actions and events that will help make the vision for the borough a success.
And there’s been no sitting back and waiting for the strategy to be adopted as the council, working with partners, has already forged ahead with delivering several of the actions on the plan, including creating the new WOCCA Smart phone app to help promote local events and activities as well as helping people find out more about the area they live.
Arts and Culture Alliance
Alongside this the Council has worked with several local cultural groups to launch a new Arts and Cultural Alliance aimed at bringing together representatives from across the sector to champion arts and culture across the borough.
“Wokingham Borough already has so many good societies and activities and the Alliance is a fantastic opportunity to encourage these for greater effectiveness and co-ordination across the Borough.” Said Robin Cops, chair of the Arts Society Wokingham and vice chair of the new Arts and Culture Alliance in Wokingham “However, it’s also a chance for us to develop and encourage the new ideas arising from Wokingham’s Arts and Culture Strategy as we grow the Borough as a cultural destination. There’s real scope here to make a difference as we emerge from this awful pandemic, whether it’s in our environment, our learning, our health or any of the other sectors that make Wokingham Borough a great place to be in. Now is the right time to make that effort.”
Cllr Haitham Taylor continued: “There is so much already going on across the borough and the alliance is a real opportunity to raise awareness and spread the word. There’s such a wealth of local knowledge out there and bringing it together allows us to tap into this experience and make sure that arts and culture can be embedded into the identity of the borough.
“We already have several local cultural groups involved but we are keen to see the Alliance grow and would encourage others to find out more and get involved so they can have a bigger voice as we roll out the strategy and action plan over the coming years.”
Individuals or organisations interested in finding out more or getting involved in the Alliance should contact Jodie Sadler, Wokingham Borough Council’s Arts and Culture Development Officer, at Jodie.firstname.lastname@example.org
Wocca Arts and Culture App
Last summer the council, working with local company Volume, launched their new arts and culture smartphone app Wocca. The app aims to create a one stop app for people to find out more about what is happening in the local area as well as giving local groups and business a platform to promote their activities and events.
The Wocca app also includes the interactive Wocca Explorers game which allows people to discover virtual markers across the borough and with fun facts and augmented reality rewards such as drawing pictures, growing poppies or dressing up in virtual costumes to reflect the marker they have found.
The Wocca can be downloaded onto compatible smartphones from their relevant App store.
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